Textile Industry Alert!
Don't Say 'Dry Clean Only' If It Can Be Washed
Cashmere sweaters are very popular items in the fashion world today. Many, possibly including ones made or imported by your company, are labeled Dry Clean Only when in fact they may be washable. A garment labeled Dry Clean Only is mislabeled under the Federal Trade Commission's Care Labeling Rule unless you have a reasonable basis indicating that the item will be harmed if washed.
The FTC's Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers to attach care labels to textile clothing. The label must:
Recommend one safe cleaning method B either washing or drycleaning (unless the garment cannot be safely washed or drycleaned, in which case the label must warn "Do not wash - Do not dryclean");
Warn against any part of the recommended procedure that may harm the garment or other items cleaned with it;
Warn if the recommended procedure must be modified.
In addition, you must possess, prior to sale, a reasonable basis for the recommended care instructions, including any warnings. For example, if your label says Dry Clean Only, you are warning consumers that the item can't be washed safely, even by hand. To have a reasonable basis (and to be accurate), you must have proof that the garment will be harmed by washing. A reasonable basis for a warning not to wash a garment can consist of reliable evidence that the garment, a fair sample of the garment, or a component of the garment was harmed when washed by the safest method. A reasonable basis can also consist of test results, current technical literature, reliable past experience, or the industry expertise supporting the care information on the label, or "other reliable evidence." In the case of cashmere sweaters and other knit cashmere garments, industry expertise indicates that most such garments can be washed safely at home. Thus, you should not place a Dry Clean Only label on a knit cashmere garment unless you possess specific, reliable evidence that that garment will be harmed by washing.
For clothing that may be washed or dry cleaned, you are only required to specify one of those cleaning methods. A label that only says Dry Clean does not warn against washing and does not require proof that washing would harm the item. However, you may wish to provide information about both washing and dry cleaning, since many consumers appreciate being able to make a choice about which method to use.
For more information about proper labeling of textile, wool, and fur products, see the Commission’s business guide, Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts, also available on this website.